An Early 2019 Fantasy Football First Round Mock Draft - Roto Street Journal
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An Early 2019 Fantasy Football First Round Mock Draft

As Derek Carr took a knee to mercifully end Week 16’s Broncos-Raiders “slugfest,” the 2018 Fantasy Football season ended, seemingly as quickly as she came.

Maybe Lady Fantasy was kind to you… aka you listened to us in, oh, January about Patrick MahomesOr maybe you relied on Matthew Berry and slugged through an awful and embarrassing campaign worthy of a Last Place Punishment.

Regardless, we’re all in the same fantasy boat now: Alone. Cold. Desperate. Wishing fantasy would come back, if only just to boot us in the nuts and torture us once more. Painfully counting down the 35 more fantasy-less Sundays, and trying to fill the void with patchwork show marathons, Bumble dates, and (thank god) Game of Thrones. Right?

Well, yes. But our goal is to make sure those Sundays aren’t quite so desolate and painful.

As a January 1st “Fantasy First Round” may suggest, we plan to unleash our full 2019 Fantasy Football Rankings, a Top 100 Big Board, and all of our 2019 Fantasy Football Stock Scores and Profiles (via our Fantasy Stock Formula) before the end of the Super Bowl.

From there, we’ll be updating the rankings with each swing and shake of the offseason. Chiefly, the Coaching Carousel (already starting to swing), Free Agency, the NFL Draft, and OTAs. (Be sure to bookmark our Stock Watch to never miss a beat).

But let’s start with the big guns: the Top 12 Fantasy Football Players for 2019. In this Fantasy First Round, you’ll find the Stock Scores, Summaries, Projections and links to their Stock Profiles for my 2019 Top Twelve, in order. Please, sound off below, or hit me up @RotoStreetWolf to let me know where I’m clinically insane or dead right.

2019 Fantasy Football Top 12 First Round

1) Todd Gurley (LAR, RB1)

Todd Gurley’s Full Stock Profile Here

Stock Score: 97

Bottom Line: A powerful yet elusive runner with excellent receiving chops, Gurley is the NFL’s picturesque workhorse. He’s an elite talent that’s both heavily and creatively utilized, leading to back-to-back finishes as the Top RB and overall skill player in fantasy with over 340 FPs (2017 and 2018, Half PPR), despite missing Week 16 this past year. He’s dangerous in space, especially with blockers in front, and is deadly in short yardage with a bloodhound nose for the endzone, as evidenced by 19 and 21 TDs in his past two seasons.

This is perfect, as offensive wizard Sean McVay dials up oodles of screens and RZ rushing chances for Gurley, creating Fantasy Gold. The overall offense is a juggernaut loaded with other talent, averaging 31.9 PPG (3rd) — and Gurley is the heartbeat. This keeps defenses honest, scoring chances plentiful, and Gurley’s fantasy outputs unfair. Best of all? Gurley’s been an iron man, missing just one game due to health since returning from his college ACL tear. Even with new workhorses emerging in Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, and  Christian McCaffrey , there’s no one else to even consider with the first overall pick.

Ceiling Projection: 350 touches (65 rec.), 2,100 Tot. Yds, 22 TDs

Floor Projection*: 310 touches (50 rec.), 1700 Tot. Yds, 12 TDs

Actual Projection: 340 touches (60 rec), 1900 Tot. Yds, 18 TDs

2) Saquon Barkley (NYG, RB2)

Saquon Barkley’s Full Stock Profile Here

Stock Score: 95

Bottom Line: Often compared to a bigger Barry Sanders, Saquon Barkley exceeded his massive rookie hype with a season for the fantasy record books: his 24.1 PPR PPG are the best for a rookie RB ever, as is his 11 games of 20+ PPR points. Barkley’s blend of strength, speed, and shiftiness create an unparalleled athlete capable of ripping off chunk plays like no other — his 51.1% breakaway percentage (runs of 15+ yards) led the NFL by a wide margin.

Meanwhile, HC Pat Shurmur lived up to his RSJ-appointed nickname of “Bellcow Breeder” by saddling up Quadzilla for a whopping 22.1 touches per week (3rd), including 87 receptions (2nd). On the negative front, the Giants’ line continued to struggle mightily despite new additions (Nate Solder, Anthony Hernandez); adding up-front beef is one of the few ways to improve Barkley’s already-elite fantasy worth. Another? Finding an actual quarterback so that this stacked skill corps can reach their limitless ceiling. If/when this happens, Barkley’s Cheat Code status will blow past unfair. Even just the expected slight gains for Year 2 in the system have me giddy for Barkley in 2019.

Ceiling Projection: 360 touches (100 rec.), 2,100 Tot. Yds, 16 TDs

Floor Projection*: 310 touches (60 rec.), 1700 Tot. Yds, 11 TDs

Actual Projection: 350 touches (80 rec), 1900 Tot. Yds, 14 TDs

3) Ezekiel Elliott (DAL, RB3)

Ezekiel Elliott’s Full Stock Profile Here

Stock Score: 95

Bottom Line: Finally, the Cowboys tapped into Ezekiel Elliott’s elite receiving abilities, and the results were even more glorious than expected: his 77 catches (5th in league), 567 yards, and 3 TDs were all career highs. When combined with his in addition to 304 carries, Zeke’s 381 touches led the NFL and created pure, utter workhorse gold. The usage is tough to top.

Expect more of the same in 2019, as both HC Jason Garrett and OC Scott Linehan return after the ‘Boys late season surge. The line remained beastly, and Zeke was especially helped in the Surrounding Talent department with Amari Cooper’s arrival — in the 7 games without Amari, Zeke had just 1/7 games above 20 FPs. Post-trade, Zeke topped this in 5 of 8 games. Zeke is as sturdy as they come, with 0 missed games dating back to college despite consistently huge workloads, and his weekly ceiling is of course limitless. Draft in your Top-Three with confidence.

Ceiling Projection: 390 touches (75 rec.), 2,100 Tot. Yds, 18 TDs

Floor Projection*: 350 touches (50 rec.), 1800 Tot. Yds, 9 TDs

Actual Projection: 370 touches (65 rec), 1950 Tot. Yds, 15 TDs

4) Christian McCaffrey (CAR, RB4)

Christian McCaffrey ’s Full Stock Profile Here

Full Stock Score: 95

Bottom Line: Pass-catching specialist, who?  Christian McCaffrey  returned to his college workhorse roots under new OC Norv Turner, and quickly put up Fantasy MVP-worthy numbers. He continued to flash his otherworldly receiving abilities, hauling in an NFL record 106 catches for 875 yards and 6 TDs. Yet where the usage really rose was the carries, as McCaffrey nearly doubled his 2017 total for 215 carries, 1080 yards, and 7 scores. These 321 total touches ranked third behind only Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley, and this newfound volume created the ultimate ceiling / floor combination. In the process, McCaffrey flashed both the elusiveness, breakaway ability, and most shockingly underrated power to redefine the workhorse model.

New OC Norv Turner deserves immense credit for this outburst. His previous work with LaDanian Tomlinson proved he wasn’t afraid to ride a smaller-back, as he’s able to scheme his guys in space and in creative outside gaps versus just blasting them up the gut… but even still, never before had an NFL back played nearly 97% of the team’s snaps. Yes, this number inevitably will fall in 2019, but McCaffrey should still hover around 85-90%, especially with Turner returning. Expect a similar buffet of weekly volume with the upside for even more efficiency should the Panthers beef up their line while their explosive young wideouts take a next step forward.

Ceiling Projection: 320 touches (100 rec.), 2,000 Tot. Yds, 13 TDs

Floor Projection*: 270 touches (70 rec.), 1600 Tot. Yds, 7 TDs

Actual Projection: 310 touches (90 rec), 1900 Tot. Yds, 12 TDs

5) Melvin Gordon (LAC, RB5)

Melvin Gordon’s Full Stock Profile Here

Stock Score: 94

Bottom Line: Fantasy’s No. 2 RB behind only Todd Gurley in PPG (22.0), Gordon was an absolute monster for his owners when on the field. Gordon isn’t overly flashy, but runs with tremendous vision, especially on tosses, and breaks tackles with ease, leading to PFF’s fourth highest “elusive rating.” He’s also aided by massive usage, averaging the 6th most touches per game among RBs (19.3).

This is typical of both HC Anthony Lynn‘s run-centric roots and OC Ken Whisenhunt‘s clock-control philosophy, who also loves dialing up screens and swings for his backs. Gordon also benefits from tremendous Surrounding Talent, as Philip Rivers and a vastly improved line keep this offense churning for lengthy drives and many scoring opportunities — this offense averaged the fifth most points in the league (27.0), while Gordon himself racked up a career-high 14 total TDs in just 11 contests (over 20 TD pace). The missed time is the only negative, however, as Gordon’s now missed multiple games in all but one season. This mildly sketchy injury history is enough of a blemish to keep Gordon out of No.1 overall conversation, but his status of a highly-used, high-quality talent in an explosive offense should keep him a Top-Five lock.

Ceiling Projection: 350 touches (65 rec.), 2,000 Tot. Yds, 22 TDs

Floor Projection*: 260 touches (40 rec.), 1400 Tot. Yds, 12 TDs

Actual Projection: 320 touches (60 rec), 1600 Tot. Yds, 17 TDs

6) Alvin Kamara (NO, RB6)

*Crucial Offseason Story to Monitor = Mark Ingram‘s Free Agency

Alvin Kamara’s Full Stock Profile Here

Stock Score: 93

Bottom Line: Slippery, explosive, and surprisingly powerful, Kamara is the ultimate do-it-all weapon that landed with the perfect mind to unleash him in Sean Payton. His elite receiving abilities, perhaps behind only  Christian McCaffrey  among RBs, are utilized to the fullest, with Kamara logging 81 receptions in back-to-back seasons. Both via the run or pass, Peyton constantly cooks up ways to get Kamara in space, before knifing him up the gut when the defense softens up. This is truly a perfect Talent / Scheme / Usage marriage, which is emphasized even further by the elite Surrounding Talent in New Orleans. The line has graded out as PFF’s top run-blocking unit in back-to-back seasons, and of course Drew Brees keeps this offense humming to the NFL’s second best scoring clip (32.7 PPG, behind only Kansas City).

The only blemish here is the actual volume, as Kamara averaged just the 12th most touches per game thanks to a committee with Mark Ingram. Crucial to note, however: Ingram is a 2019 Free Agent. If he departs without a similar talent replacement, Kamara’s Usage and overall stock score would soar to Top-3 levels. In fact, Kamara’s numbers with and without Ingram are legitimately startling:

Pace with Ingram: 229 touches (76 rec), 1503 tot. Yds (711 receiving), 15 TDs (10 rush) = 277 FPs, 17.31 per game (half)

Pace without Ingram:  360 touches (140 rec.), 2396 tot. yds (1344 = rec), 24 TDs (20 Rush) = 454 FPs, 28.35 per game

For perspective, during his historic 2006 (2323 tot. yds, 31 TDs, 56 rec), LaDainian Tomlinson netted 446 FPs… less than Kamara’s pace. Granted, even if Ingram departs, Kamara is unlikely to slide right back into that volume and consequent insane pace; the team will likely replace him with something at least mildly comparable, and Payton has always preferred a committee. Still, as  Christian McCaffrey  flashed in Carolina, the workhorse definition is clearly changing. Any freed up volume would go a huge way towards Kamara hitting his No.1 overall ceiling.

Ceiling Projection: 330 touches (100 rec.), 2,100 Tot. Yds, 20 TDs

Floor Projection*: 220 touches (70 rec.), 1600 Tot. Yds, 13 TDs

Actual Projection: 300 touches (80 rec), 1900 Tot. Yds, 15 TDs

7) James Conner (PIT, RB8)

James Conner’s Full Stock Profile

Stock Score: 93

Bottom Line: Filling in for an absentee Le’Veon BellJames Conner was far and away 2018’s top fantasy value. Though unflashy and lacking long speed, Conner is a bruising runner who destroys arm tackles, fights for every yard, and carries quality receiving chops. This versatile skillset made him a fantastic fill-in for the invaluable Steelers Workhorse Role, especially at the stripe, where Conner scored 13 total TDs in just 13 games (Bell’s career high was 11). Volume was again king, as despite the coordinator change from Todd Haley to Randy Fichtner, Pittsburgh remained a one-back show and Conner’s 20.9 touches per game ranking fourth in the NFL. Even better, in three less contests, Fichtner gave Conner 15 carries inside-the-10 as compared to just 6 for Bell under Haley, allowing the ridiculous TD pace.

This heavy usage — in an explosive overall offense and behind a Top-10 line — helped Conner finish as the RB6 in fantasy despite missing 3 contests; his 19.4 FPPG trailed Bell’s insane 2017 by just .5 a point per game. Though the team could explore backfield mates and send Conner’s fantasy stock plummeting, his excellent performance should earn him another season in this incredible fantasy set-up. Expect another monstrous 2019 from Conner, who should be the first RB selected after the Elite 6.

Ceiling Projection: 350 touches (70 rec.), 1,800 Tot. Yds, 19 TDs

Floor Projection*: 280 touches (45 rec.), 1200 Tot. Yds, 10 TDs

Actual Projection: 330 touches (65 rec), 1650 Tot. Yds, 14 TDs

8) Le’Veon Bell (FA, RB7)

Le’Veon Bell’s Full Stock Profile

Stock Score: 88

Bottom Line: Without his landing spot determined, Le’Veon Bell‘s 2019 fantasy value remains largely unknown. Even still, Bell is an elite talent who offers immense versatility as one of the league’s top-three receiving backs, alongside a bulldozer build with arguably the best rushing patience and vision in the game. Moreover, considering his $17 million a season, $45 million guaranteed contract demands, Bell is likely to find workhorse volume wherever he lands — no team’s shelling this money out without the intention to ride him for 350+ touches. The question then becomes: which offensive scheme and Surrounding Talent will Bell find himself amidst?

Undoubtedly, Bell will be fresh and motivated following his year off. Still, there’s serious risk beyond his diva tendencies from last year. He’s missed time with fairly significant injuries in all but one season, and who knows just how in-shape he’ll be after a full season away. In the perfect new home (cough, Chiefs, cough), Bell will threaten for 2019’s Fantasy MVP. Still, he could end up in a hideous spot (i.e. Jets) and rot. Regardless, his free agency will be among 2019’s most important offseason storylines to track.

Ceiling Projection: 400 touches (90 rec.), 2,200 Tot. Yds, 15 TDs

Floor Projection*: 310 touches (60 rec.), 1600 Tot. Yds, 9 TDs

Actual Projection: 360 touches (80 rec), 1800 Tot. Yds, 12 TDs

9) Davante Adams (GB, WR1)

Davante Adam’s Full Stock Profile

Stock Score: 96

Bottom Line: 2018’s top WR in FPPG (18.3), Adams absolutely flourished in his first year without Jordy Nelson as the new apple of Aaron Rodgers’ eye. Adams himself is a rangy 6’1″ with a combine-leading vertical (39.5), creating an absolute Red Zone terror, especially with a QB who can place the ball wherever he wants; unsurprisingly, Adams ranked second in the league with 13 TDs thanks to an NFL-best 31 Red Zone targets, marking the third straight year with 10+ scores. Yet, as one of Rodgers’ only reliable weapons, Adams’ usage wasn’t just restricted to inside-the-20, with the elite wideout ranking second in the league in overall targets (169). As the clear-cut top target still, Adams once again projects to see top-five volume from one of the league’s best throwers, a recipe for continued fantasy domination.

Sure, questions exist: who will be calling plays? Will he face greater competition for looks? Even still, Adams combination of Individual Talent, Usage, and Surrounding Talent will keep him a Top-Three WR selection worthy of WR1 consideration due to the highest floor in the game. He never dipped below 13 FPs in all of 2018, while also offering week-swinging ceiling. There’s not a safer first-round WR investment.

Ceiling Projection: 120 rec (170 tgts), 1,500 Yds, 15 TDs

Floor Projection*: 95 rec (130 tgts), 1,000 Yds, 10 TDs

Actual Projection: 115 rec (160 tgts), 1,350 yds, 13 TDs

10) Antonio Brown (PIT, WR2)

*UPDATE – Antonio Brown has officially requested a trade. His potential movement is now absolutely crucial to monitor.

Antonio Brown’s Full Stock Profile

Stock Score: 96

Bottom Line: Fantasy Football’s WR1, WR1, WR1, WR1, and WR2 in PPG since 2014, Antonio Brown is the pinnacle of consistent fantasy excellence. The Individual Talent is indisputable, as AB pairs league-best route running with glue-like hands, effortless acceleration, and insane body control, making him an impossible cover at every layer of the field. Even better, whether Todd Haley or Randy Fichtner this past year, Brown’s talent has consistently used to the fullest: since 2014, he’s ranked 2nd (163), 5th (152), 2nd (195), 2nd (181), and 2nd (169) in looks. Consequently, Brown hasn’t dipped below 100 catches or 1280 yards in five straight season, while setting a career-high and leading the league with 15 TDs this past season.

Unlike years past, some concerns do exist with Brown for 2019. Most glaring is the rapid rise of Brown’s attitude and offield concerns, which reportedly grew so negative he was benched in Week 17. He also went AWOL on three separate occasions, and could be a risk to holdout in demand of a trade or release as Mike Tomlin loses his locker room more and more each year. If he does remain in Pittsburgh, Brown could also suffer with the rapid emergence of JuJu Smith-Schuster beside him. In fact, JuJu caught more balls (111) for more yardage (1426) than Brown in 2018, and could continue eating into his workload with further development. Though this creates some question marks around Brown’s fantasy value for the first time in the past six seasons, he will would likely be a first-rounder regardless of where he lands, (ideally remaining in Pittsburgh with cleared air).

Ceiling Projection: 130 catches (190 tgts), 1850 yards, 15 TDs

Floor Projection: 100 catches (150 tgts), 1300 yards, 9 TDs

Actual Projection: 108 catches (160 tgts), 1400 yards, 11 TDs

11) DeAndre Hopkins (HOU, WR3) 

DeAndre Hopkins Full Stock Profile

Stock Score: 96

Bottom Line: With the NFL’s best hands, insane body control, and fantastic route-running, Hopkins is arguably the NFL’s toughest cover. The WR4, WR1, and WR2 in three of his last four season, Hopkins is legitimately the lowest-risk fantasy investment in the game; he has never missed a game and is the one true “QB-proof” (outside of Brock Osweiler) weapon, producing elite numbers with some of the trashiest QBs throwing him the rock. He’s topped 150 targets in four straight seasons, and runs routes all over the place under Bill O’Brien. With Deshaun Watson fully healthy for all of 2019 and Will Fuller returning to lift the lid and keep defenses honest, Hopkins could be in for a truly special season.

Ceiling Projection: 130 rec (190 tgts), 1,800 yds, 15 TDs

Floor Projection*: 100 rec (150 tgts), 1,300 yds, 8 TDs touches (50 rec.)

Actual Projection: 115 rec (170 tgts), 1,450 yds, 12 TDs

12) Travis Kelce (KC, TE1)

Travis Kelce’s Full Stock Profile

Bottom Line: Fantasy’s TE1, TE2, and TE1 over the past three years, Kelce put together career-highs across the board amidst the Chiefs’ offensive explosion under Patrick Mahomes. For all his lack of toughness, Kelce uses his massive 6’5″ frame masterfully, which makes him a deadly Red Zone weapon in an offense that resides there more than any other. His insane 103 – 1336 – 10 TD line not only topped all TEs by nearly 20 FPs, but was more than all but eight WRs. When compared to the complete unpredictably and ineptitude of the TE position (only Zach Ertz and George Kittle were dependable), this edge is even more glaring. In fact, Kelce, who doubled the FPs of TE6 Austin Hooper, ranked 7th on Yahoo’s MVP List of most common championship fixtures.

Moving forward, there’s minimal reason to expect regression. Mahomes is clearly God, Andy Reid‘s offense remains among the pass-happiest in the league, and this offense sports too many weapons to ever allow Kelce to be completely schemed out. Though securing this massive weekly edge is expensive, the payoff is tremendous with quality late-round drafting. Secure this WR1 at your TE spot towards the end of Round 1, and never look back.

Ceiling Projection: 110 rec (155 tgts), 1,400 Yds, 14 TDs

Floor Projection*: 90 rec (110 tgts), 1,000 Yds, 8 TDs

Actual Projection: 100 rec (140 tgts), 1,250 yds, 10 TDs

This is just a sneak peak of what we’ll be offering this entire offseason. Keep rotostreetjournal.com bookmarked, and follow all our socials (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) to never miss a swing or shake. Plus, don’t miss our Fantasy Fullback Dive Podcast. We’ll be dropping our Round 2 prospects next week.

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